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I have a laptop, about 6 years old, which is currently running XP. It's not especially well spec'd, and I wondered whether it would be better to change the OS to Windows 7 or 8. The machine:

  • Acer Aspire 5630
  • Intel Core 2 T5500 @ 1.66GHz
  • 1.0G Ram
  • 50G HD


Assuming that I can't use a Linux distribution (and it seems to me that is not the forum for that discussions), and with the deadline for Windows XP support coming up, I would like to know what criteria should be used in deciding which of Windows 7 or 8 would be better to put on the machine. I have picked up that both of them can be configured to be lighter weight than XP, but on what logical reasoning should I pick one or the other?

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closed as not constructive by Canadian Luke, soandos, tombull89, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Breakthrough Jun 25 '13 at 14:13

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What are the not well spec'd specs? – AthomSfere Jun 24 '13 at 16:38
I'd say it's not worth upgrading, leave it with XP for now and buy a new PC later. But if you really have to upgrade, this is interesting. Real HW requirements for Win8 are lower than for Win7, so I'd say go for 8. – gronostaj Jun 24 '13 at 17:23
@NeilTownsend - Your biggest problem is driver support and the fact you only have 1GB of memory. At this point it wouldn't be worth putting Windows 7 on the machine. You are better off just keeping Windows XP on it. Your computer's performance cannot get any better, the only way it might get better, is if you migrate to Linux instead of Windows. – Ramhound Jun 24 '13 at 17:40
I'd echo Ramhound and advise at least considering a lightweight linux distro. – James Jun 24 '13 at 18:16
I know this is outside the scope of your question, but if all you use the laptop for is web browsing, then when you're ready to ditch WinXP you might be better off with some lightweight Linux variant like Xubuntu. It'll run in as little as 256MB of RAM and 5GB of hard drive space. – Johnny Jun 24 '13 at 21:26
up vote 22 down vote accepted

Strictly speaking your computer falls within the minimum requirements for both Windows 7 and 8, so either should work, but Windows 8 has seen a number of performance improvements that would make it the better choice.

The 50GB HD is small, but, depending on your needs, it should be enough. My C:\Windows currently uses 11.8GB (Windows 8).

Where you are likely to run into trouble are with the drivers. Many older devices simply don't have Windows 7 or 8 drivers, although sometimes the Vista driver may work. This is the case with my XP laptop, where the ATI X1400 GPU doesn't have any official drivers, and the Vista drivers are wonky.

The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will let you know about many problems:

But the best way of finding out if it works is to get the 90 day trial from here:

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Just out of interest, did you do anything to keep your windows install small? I had to increase my C: partition as the space required has swelled to 44gb and I install all my programs to another drive. Have you been installing Windows updates? – A G Jun 25 '13 at 8:40
I may have cleaned out old Windows Update files at some point (using Disk Cleanup), although I'm not sure. Apart from that, no, nothing special, and I let it install all updates. – Donatzsky Jun 26 '13 at 15:11

At minimum for either OS, you need:

  1. More RAM, 2GB is about minimum for decent performance for either OS.
  2. Bigger hard drive. At 50GB you have enough room for the base OS, and a couple mid sized installs before you run out of room.

Assuming you can make those upgrades, the two OS's are very similar, 8 is actually slightly lighter / faster. If you are OK with the Modern GUI, that would probably be a marginally better choice.

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From what I've seen, Windows 8 works somewhat faster than Windows 7, but I'm not sure how your hardware would be supported. On Microsoft's site, they state the minimum hardware requirements. Your configuration seems to be supported. A quick search for benchmarks returned this link: Breathe New Life into Your Old PC — with Windows 7

From my experience, systems that ran XP could run 7, but there were some performance issues, and 8 is supposed to be better than 7, performance wise. Check the availability of your laptop's drivers for windows 7 and 8 (if 7 supports your devices, it is likely that 8 does too). I would try 8 (but maybe wait for the 8.1).

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Go the microsoft site and checkout the MINIMUM hardware requirements for Win 7 and Win 8. I believe you are going to find that 1G of memory is insufficient for either. Also 1.66 GHz processor will be pretty slow.

If you really want to continue using your laptop, a linux release might just work for this type of hardware.

But if you still want to stick to Windows OS, then you are going have to upgrade to something a heck of a lot better performance wise.

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1ghz gpu, 1GB ram, 16GB HD. 1GB of ram will hurt you badly if you try to do anything beyond opening a few office documents or a few tabs in a web browser; but that's true (especially the browser bit0 in XP as well. – Dan Neely Jun 24 '13 at 18:07
If you had gone to check the requirements, you would have noticed that 1GB of RAM is in fact enough. It's not going to be much fun, but that's another issue. – Donatzsky Jun 26 '13 at 15:13

On that machine you will be pretty hard-set to run either of those operating systems. Linux or XP is your best bet.

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Make a hard disk image. Install Windows 7 or 8.Spend two months 'admiring' the performance. Then return to your image of XP. You might as well be running an Intel Atom Z510 -- your CPU is 10 times faster than the super-lightweight Atom processor.

This machine is suited perfectly for Windows XP. What features do new OS's have that are worth giving up that much performance?

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Your first paragraph doesn't make sense. – Dan Neely Jun 24 '13 at 18:03
@DanNeely Good joke. But I'm not a sadist)) +1 – STTR Jun 24 '13 at 20:24
I'm not joking. I have no idea what you intended to say. Multiple people up voting my comment says I'm not the only person confused. – Dan Neely Jun 24 '13 at 20:31
You're still not making sense. I can only conclude that you're not as clever as you think you are. – Dan Neely Jun 24 '13 at 21:17
@DanNeely Just walk away and nod :) – NRGdallas Jun 24 '13 at 22:36

I think that from the first given specs, maybe you have a lot of problems, and I think that you have either choice to upgrade or replace the parts, or use the alternative OS in the given one.

For this range of specs... 8 or either 7 is to much for that...

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From my experience and the opinion of numerous people I know Window 7 is much slower than Windows XP.

I've managed to use Windows XP with Office 97 on Pentium II computer with 128 MB RAM. It's everything but imaginable with Windows 7.

Windows 7/8 is better choice for new computers, having >= 8 GB RAM, >= 8 cores etc. But it's not your case.

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